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The International Implications Of Trump's Refugee Ban


Refugees and other foreigners were held at airports across the country yesterday as President Trump's executive order went into effect. By the evening, a federal judge in Brooklyn had issued an emergency stay on a part of the president's actions. That stay prevents the deportation of anyone with a valid visa after they have landed in the U.S.

That's a lot to keep track of, so I'm going to recap. President Trump's orders prevent all refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days, bars Syrian refugees indefinitely and prevents people from seven Muslim-majority countries from coming here for three months - on that list Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Here to talk about some of the foreign policy implications is Richard Haass. He's head of the Council on Foreign Relations. And his new book is, "A World In Disarray."

Thanks for being with us.

RICHARD HAASS: Good morning.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Good morning. President Trump's executive actions on immigrants and refugees, it feels like a fundamental reset of how this nation views its borders. When you saw the news, what were your thoughts?

HAASS: Well, I was both surprised and unhappy - surprised because I don't always assume that everything said on a campaign becomes policy. And often, for good reason, it does not. But disappointed - beyond the humanitarian costs that you've been talking about this morning, this is - you know, it's bad for American universities. It's bad for the American economy. A lot of these people, you know, who are here already or who would come here would fill our schools, would work for our major technology and other firms.

But the foreign policy side of this is what worries me as much of anything. You're really letting down those people, say, in Iraq, who risked their lives to work to help Americans. This seems to me as not just personally unfair to them but sends a terrible message that those who work with us will not necessarily be protected. I think, also, if you're ISIS, this is a good day. This is a recruiting boon for you. It basically sends the message, the Americans are at war with Islam, just as we, ISIS, have been saying all along.

And lastly, I worry about the implications for America's 3 million Muslims. By essentially dealing with people not as people but as members of religious groups or people who come from certain countries, I'm worried this will alienate this community. We need them to be fully integrated in this society. We need their leaders, basically, to work with law enforcement to identify, in particular, those young people who do get radicalized. And what I fear this will do is actually increase the alienation and radicalization of this community. So the homegrown terrorist threat, which I worry far more about than anyone coming in from across our borders, that threat could actually get worse.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: It's important to say at this point that the Trump administration says this is not a religious ban. This is not a ban on Muslims. This is to protect the country from terrorism. When we look at our foreign policy, we've already seen reaction from around the Middle East. What do you think the effect is going to be in places like Iran and Iraq?

HAASS: Well, it won't - none of this will change the dynamics of what is going on in places like Iran and Iraq. Iraq is, you know, fighting ISIS. The government there is what it is. But Iran - and again, none of this will affect the Iranian nuclear program or Iran's push for regional primacy. Those are some of the reasons the Middle East is as turbulent as it is. But I think, again, it's a powerful propaganda tool for a country like Iran. What it says - the United States is implacably hostile to Muslims. I think it makes it more difficult, in some ways, for us to get Iraqis to work with us. The bottom line is I don't see how it helps us to stabilize this part of the world.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: This is part of what President Trump has called America first and America-first position in the world. What are the risks of this kind of isolationist, it seems, position?

HAASS: It's not just isolationist, America first - it sends the signal that the United States is going to narrow and calculate its self-interest. And we're simply not going to care about what it might mean for other people or other countries. So here, we're seeing the humanitarian crisis, but we're also going to see other countries taking matters into their own hands.

And they're going to stop deferring to American interests. They're either going to defer to the most powerful regional state, or they're going to increasingly arm themselves and do what they narrowly think they need to do. This is a world with much less American influence. This leads to a world with much less order. Yeah, I've written about a world in disarray. We could go from a world in disarray to something even worse all too quickly.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Richard Haass, head of the Council on Foreign Relations, his new book is "A World In Disarray," as he just mentioned. Thank you so much for being with us.

HAASS: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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